Though it has become trendy now, Cupping Therapy has been around for thousands of years. It dates as far back as Ancient Egypt in the 1500’s BC and was used in Middle Eastern and Chinese cultures.
Cupping involves placing bamboo, glass or plastic jars on the skin and creating a vacuum by suctioning out the air. The underlying tissue is raised up, or sucked into the cup. The purpose for cupping is to increase circulation, relieve pain and pull out toxins that stagnate in your body’s tissues.
There is an old Chinese medical mantra:
“Where there’s stagnation, there will be pain. Remove the stagnation, and you remove the pain”
This states that pain is resulted from congestion, stagnation and the blockage of Qi (pronounced “chee”) or vital energy, vital fluids, lymph, phlegm, and blood. If pain is the essence of disease, then suffering is a result of obstructed or irregular flow in the body. Chinese therapy cupping is therefore a method of breaking up the blockage to restore the body’s natural flow of energy.
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE
There is usually a tight sensation around the cup area. Most of the time, this sensation is soothing and relaxing. Based on your comfort level and the practitioner’s assessment of the problem, the cups may be moved around the area, or left in place. The cups can remain on your body for a short period, or a longer amount of time. Every treatment is unique to you and your condition, and how your condition is responding on a particular day. The most common area for cupping is on the back. However cupping works well on other fleshy sections of the body. If you watched the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, you saw Michael Phelps with darkened circles on his shoulder area. This was cupping.
Cupping will cause the skin to temporarily turn blue, red or purple. This is especially present if there’s an injury or energetic blockage under the area being cupped. This discoloration of the skin can last for a few days to a couple of weeks. However it is rarely painful. When the marks are gone, the cupping procedure can be repeated again until the ailment or condition is resolved.
Cupping may be trendy with the Hollywood scene, but athletes are taking it seriously to reduce pain and improve their game. We spoke of Michael Phelps recently using cupping, but another Olympian, Chinese swimmer Wang Qun proudly showed off her cupping circles during the 2008 Beijing Games. Tennis champ Andy Murry used cupping to help with his back injuries. And a large number of New York Mets players use cupping to improve their game. But most importantly, Cupping is beneficial for everyone.
Yoosan Lee, our acupuncturist, is well versed with cupping and has been doing it here at Breakthrough Wellness Center for over 5 years. Many patients report positive benefits after Yoosan treats them. He also often incorporates acupuncture with the cupping therapy. Yoosan notes that in the Winter he helps many patients suffering from the flu, colds and coughs. When spring hits, he gets an increase in patients battling allergies and fevers.
A report, published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine in 2015, noted that Cupping could help with acne, herpes zoster, and pain management.
It should be noted that cupping therapy isn’t to be use on patients who easily bleed and/or can’t stop bleeding. Also patients who have ulcers or open wounds. Pregnant women should be cupped with extreme caution and avoid their abdomen or low back.